Friday, August 31, 2007

First day of school!!

First full day of preK school for both Catherine and Elisabeth! It's only 1/3 mile from our front door to the school door, so we will be walking daily.

It's hard to face it!!!

Actually they were delighted to be going!

It's only scary before you walk into the door....

And then as soon as they hung up their backpacks and found their special places to sit, fully equipped with TOYS, they made themselves right at home and never glanced back at Mom and Dad!

So Mom and Dad enjoyed a delightful 2.75 hours of freedom by . . . going grocery shopping. Wheee! And then we went back to get the girls. They both said they liked school and had fun! Walks with them always take longer than they take. There's always interesting things to stop and look at.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Kayak update

I got a call today and two new kayaks will be on their way Monday (I hope!) and they're sending a truck to take these two back. All I have to do is re-wrap them. I'm disappointed that we can't use them right away after waiting 5 weeks to the day for delivery, but they're doing the right thing to correct it. Hopefully this will be a final solution. The vendor (Cabela's) is simply the middleman for the manufacturer (Old Town Canoe Company in Bangor, Maine), from whence they ship direct, so I really can't fault them. Yet.

Another 4.5 miles slow slog on the roads today. My right metatarso-phalangeal joint is hurting in a way that has me fairly concerned. It doesn't hurt when I'm actually running, but it hurts like a mofo when I push on it. So I just try not to push on it. I'm smart that way.

Harder than I want

I want these "little" 5K runs around the neighborhood to get easier. My heart rate topped out about 184 at the end of this one. Or I want them to get faster. Or preferably, both. I've got some ideas to jump-start my running a little once the girls get into school and I can hit a routine schedule of runs, but for now, it's ugly out there.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The new kayaks

They're here!! They arrived quite well-padded, but they weren't in as good of shape as I had hoped after transit.

They're significantly different colors - one has red ends and the other has yellow ends:

And unfortunately one has a few dents along the side which I believe will extend beneath the water line:

And the other has the tip of the stern dimpled in. It's not large, but it's definitely unsightly:

I think I'll have to contact the company about it and see what we can do about these defects.

Update: Unfortunately upon closer inspection, one kayak's hull damage extends all the way through to the inside (see below) at the waterline. This one will have to be returned.

And I just realized the stern "dimple" is part of the supposed-to-be-watertight compartment. Probably that will be a potential source for leaks, too. They both will have to go back.

I think they must have been left out in the sun somewhere in transit, heated up, and got damaged while hot and the plastic was softened. There were warning labels to that effect on the packaging that apparently went unheeded.

Meet the teacher day

Today was a BIG day!

We walked over to the elementary school and had our initial visit in the classroom with the teacher! We even got to meet the principal and a couple of other teachers as well. They seem to be a positive and enthusiastic bunch and it was great to meet them!!!

We found our cubbies where our backpacks will go each day during school. Elisabeth learned that routine last year but it will be new for Catherine. She's all excited about wearing her backpack and keeps reminding me about it.

What big girls they are!!! (No, I didn't cry yet about them being all grown up, I'm still too busy doing the Happy Dance about my 2.75 hours of freedom every weekday).

They're still my silly monster girls. This was the other day when they both decided to wear pull-up diapers on their heads around the house and go into the closet in search of monsters. Elisabeth is signing "monster".

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Kitchen improvements

Here's the new light we just had installed over the kitchen table on Friday. The walls behind it are freshly painted in a soft beige by yours truly. It's an improvement on the ugly-ass kitschy border that was up there since we bought the house.

What you can't tell from the photo is that the light is colossal in size - approximately 3 feet across and takes up most of the space in our modest kitchen. I bought it online and thought it was about a foot or 18 inches across. Nope. It looks like a small alien spacecraft is hovering in the airspace above our kitchen table.

But it's growing on me.

We also got a fan installed in the attic, some of the El Cheapo baseboard thermostats replaced, and three ceiling lights put up in the bedrooms that formerly had none.

That's enough home improving for one week.

Sniffly and sweaty

My allergies have suddenly knocked me for a loop! I think it may be mold spores just now let loose with all the rain we have had after a long drought. *kachoo!* Or ragweed. Or something else bad.

I'm anxiously watching the and Hammerhead Olympic Tri results for my blogger peeps today! Go go go!!! Special shout out to Geekgirl who is on that Ironman bike course now in Louisville after an awesome swim!

I rode 26.2 miles in their honor this morning at a pretty good clip for me, averaging 17.1 mph including a slow startup mile through town. Which was somewhat better than the long run which I should have done but I blew off because my allergies left me feeling sniffly and headachy. Instead the bike ride started in 99% humidity and ended at an arid 87% humidity. Sweat was pouring off the front of my helmet. I tested out a tri-top that I've had for a long time but never used, but I think I might race in it in September for the non-wetsuit swims.

Then I went online shopping for a few replacement items: replacement bike shorts, bike shoe cleats, and heel caps for the ones I've worn out. I think I'm all set for my September tris except for a bike tune-up. And the training part, of course.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A pedestrian swim

The heat index was cracking 105*F today so my workout consisted of one lap around the track with the girls for their morning constitutional, and then I did my swim in the indoor "cool pool" which felt absolutely perfect compared to the sauna outside.

Did 4 sets of 500 yards broken up by a 200 yards of breaststroke.
  • 11:38
  • 11:37
  • 12:30
  • 12:37

That last set is 2:30/100 yards. That's barely faster than I swam at Eagleman Half Ironman - but much slower than I swam at Columbia Olympic distance (34:07 for 1500m/1640 yards). I'm hoping to swim somewhere close to 34 minutes at my two Olympic triathlons in September (Annapolis and Walt Disney World), but if I give up a minute or two it won't surprise me a bit, especially if we can't wear wetsuits!

I think the slowdown that I get in sighting in open water swimming just about breaks even with the slowdown I get from doing open turns in a pool. Maybe I can pick up some speed by drafting! The Annapolis swim should be fun, right at the entrance to Ego Alley and next to the United States Naval Academy. At least we should be able to check out some nice boats while we swim.

A tale of two tires

. . . or "Better Red than Dead".

I suppose the day had to come some time when I had to give up Buttercup's pretty yellow Continental 4000 tires. They were out of stock and I needed new tires and tubes NOW in preparation for my two triathlons in September.

My new choice was the red-striped Michelin Ironman tires. So we've gone from German tires to French tires. I wonder if that will change Buttercup from an aggressor to a surrender monkey? Or just give her a little more fashion sense?

The Contis have a trace of tread and a flatter rolling surface, while the new Michelins have a narrow rolling surface and no tread at all. I'm told the tread on bike tires is basically cosmetic for the consumer and they don't really affect handling - we will see about that!

I think she looks a little meaner and faster with her red accents - what do you think? After all, we all acknowledge that red is fast.

Buttercup still pines for fancy carbon race wheels, but she's not getting them this year. Maybe next year.

PS: If you can't do at least this much maintenance on your own bike, it's high time you learned how. Lots of local bike shops or outdoorsy stores like REI have basic bike mechanics courses for low cost - it's one of the best investments you can make in happy cycling to take one!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Negative splits

They're rare to nonexistent for me.

But I did them today! I had to get my run done before 8 AM when the electricians were due to arrive to install some ceiling lights in our house. So that added some urgency to the task.

3 loops (2.43 miles each) around the Chance Hope neighborhood near my house, with refueling stops at the minivan mobile aid station.

1. 29:37 (including one unscheduled stop in the woods)
2. 27:49
3. 27:28

Overall running pace was 11:38 min/mile. Gotta get faster than that. Gotta stop doing those unscheduled stops in the woods, too. Ewww.

My Garmin is flaking out, too, unfortunately. Either the power connections or the battery is bad, don't know which, but it keeps going dead. Bleah. The only thing worse than an addictive electronic device is a dead electronic device to which one is addicted.

PS: Good luck to my blogger pals at the inaugural Ironman Kentucky this weekend! I'll be watching!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

R. I. P. Tri One O One

I'm really sorry you didn't make it. I really wanted to do one of your races.

I especially wanted to see the m-dot monopolistic juggernaut get some competition, too.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Late summer photos

The crape myrtle in the yard is finally in full bloom:

These swans are local residents, on my running route yesterday:

Grandpa visited for the weekend so we had a couple of nice restaurant meals when the girls mostly behaved:

Then today we caught up on training the girls to be Walmart shoppers:
And they were so good in the store that they earned a trip to the big nearby playground with lots of fun things for four-year-olds to do:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Long run done

Whew. Finally got in a longish (14.6 mile) LSD run today, emphasis on the Slow in Long Slow Distance. Fortunately the weather was considerably cooler than it has been!

I used the same strategy as one week ago: Drove my car out to a nearby residential area and did a total of 6 trips around 3 different loops from my car, stopping and rehydrating and refueling between each loop.

Here are my numbers (Garmin was acting flaky and had no charge, didn't use it):
Temps: 65*F-75*F
Humidity: 58% plus
Swan Villas loop (2.52 miles): 1) 32:19 2) 32:45
Golf Course loop (2.33 miles): 1) 29:41
Chance Hope loop (2.43 miles): 1) 30:12 2) 30:24 3) 35:27 (lots of walking but got 'er done)
Water consumed: ~100 fluid ounces
Sodium consumed: ~1000 mg (in 10 Endurolytes capsules)
Clif Blox consumed: 11 (total 363 calories)
Stomach discomfort: 0
Trips to the bushes: 4 (ugh)
Overall pace on the road: ~13.0 min/mile (much slower than I want)

Still many miles to go. . . .

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Eastern Shore girls

My girls are growing up to be real Eastern Shore girls.

Today the Peter Pan DVD just arrived in the mail and I was trying to explain to Catherine about Tinkerbell the Fairy.

Except she was confused, and thought I was talking about the Ferry.

Hmmm. I'm hearing a lot about the new Youth Olympics that will be starting in 2010 for 14-18 year olds. . . . perhaps we can start targeting the 2018 Games for sailing or kayaking or even triathlon! They'll be 15 by then, plenty of time to get ready!

Kayak names?

OK, this is an I-need-suggestions post.

We've got twin kayaks arriving here any day now. Since every seafaring vessel needs a name, I'm looking for ideas!!

BIKE and RUN seem too obvious. . . . or Triathlete Escort Vessels I and II. . . .

My husband wants to name them after my girls, Empress Elisabeth and Empress Catherine.

Your creative ideas?

They're 14 feet long and a red-to-yellow "sunrise" coloration, if that matters.

Of course, it might be appropriate to name them Sunrise and Sunset, except that song makes me cry every time:

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember growing older
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he get to be so tall?
Wasn't it yesterday
When they were small?

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

What words of wisdom can I give them?
How can I help to ease their way?
Now they must learn from one another
Day by day

They're IN!


After pestering the principal and generally being an anxious parent, I just found out that BOTH my girls were accepted into the (free) pre-Kindergarten program in the public elementary school just a 1/3-mile walk from our front door.

I still don't know if they will be in morning or afternoon sessions, and I sure hope the teacher hasn't had the bright idea to split up my twins! They do well together - as well as any two random girls, probably - and they're both usually off doing their own thing. Elisabeth will be getting speech twice per week and occupational therapy once, while Catherine will probably be ruling the world.

It's only for 2 3/4 hours per day, but it's a perfect length for them to get a little education and for me to get a break for a quick workout or a trip to the store - or maybe even a little work on a painting without curious fingers poking at it!



Today's baking project "for my girls" (ha, supposedly) was brownies.


Once I've sampled these delicacies, I'm afraid any other brand of brownie mix would just come out tasting comparatively like dog poop. There's no going back now.

I'm just sayin'. . . .

And no, this is not a paid advertisement. I freakin' hate shill blogs. I get enough advertising SPAM everywhere I look, I don't read blogs to get products marketed to me too, thankyouverymuch. Even if YOU got free product to hype it, okay? So if you're shilling for $$, I'm not reading. Just so you know. Unless you want to send me free product, of course.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thank you, readers!

I just wanted to give a shout out to my faithful blog readers. Thanks for stopping by!!

Today is a notably slow "Dog Days of Summer" day. Nothing going on here, like many recent days. Move along. But I'm surprised to see that I'm still getting something like 150 hits per day, which astounds me!

What have we done today?
  • Slept late. Once school starts we're looking at pre-6:00 wakeups for me and perhaps 6:30 for the girls, so we're enjoying the slack time now.
  • Walked to the track with the girls to do one lap. I'm trying to get them accustomed to walking a little more since they'll be walking to and from school in another couple weeks (I hope). We're logging quarter miles on one of the great printouts from the website to accumulate 25 laps for a 10K.
  • Accepted a UPS delivery for exactly ONE pastel packed in a big box which they didn't have for my shipment last week.
  • Called the school YET AGAIN to find out if Catherine actually has been admitted to the preK program which starts in two weeks. (Elisabeth is more or less automatically admitted due to her apraxia). The preK program that we had to apply for FIVE MONTHS AGO. Apparently they still don't know if she is admitted, and may not know until AFTER SCHOOL STARTS. OK, we give you 5 months lead time and you give us. . . . none? Bah.
  • Worked on painting the kitchen that I'm doing in small batches since there's lots of complicated taping and cutting-in to be done around the cabinets. And it was badly painted before - they basically skipped all the places behind the fridge and stove and anywhere hard to reach and left it bare sheetrock. Nice.
  • Had a nutritious lunch consisting of watermelon and goldfish crackers because it's too hard to actually make anything with all the counters and cabinets in disarray for painting.
  • Now I'm waiting for the paint to dry so I can remove the tape. Catherine is walking around in her princess Hallowe'en costume from last year, with her arm by her face, saying "Whirr! Whirr!" When I ask, "Are you an elephant?" She says, "No, I'm pretending!" Oh, sorry, I mistook you for an actual elephant wearing a purple dress in my kitchen.
  • Worked on changing over my home page to iGoogle after over a decade of loyalty to my Yahoo home page. I'm feeling some pangs here, folks, be sympathetic - this is a revolutionary step I'm taking - but Google is doing a great job with all the widgets they offer and their ease of adding components.
  • Workouts? Nahhhh. . . . I was thinking of taking the girls over to the local small-town Y branch (basically a little strip mall store-front with treadmills and weight machines) but I may not be that ambitious. Emailed the babysitter to see if she can come over any time in the next 3 days before my husband comes back from his business trip to the wilds of Newfoundland.
  • I think I've worked out my fueling plan for the Marine Corps Marathon: one Clif Blok (33 calories per block) per mile marker, plus one per water stop, will give me about 200 calories per hour. Add in electrolyte capsules because the Powerade they're going to use on course is worthless for either energy or electrolytes. I have to pack about 30 Clif Bloks in my waist pack to make it through - I hope they fit. I also have to test-drive that feeding level to see if it agrees with my digestion over 3 or 4 hours. Right now that's just the plan on paper, haven't tested it yet. I've been reviewing my training plan, but any way you cut it, I'm behind the game on running mileage.
  • I'm wondering if one has to have a "fire in the belly" and have some great score to settle or something to prove in order to do triathlon well, or if it's sufficient to simply enjoy it and be perpetually back-of-the-pack or midpack and being mediocre is enough. I'm fairly contentedly in the latter group these days. I suppose the sport is big enough to include all of us.
  • That is all.

So thanks for stopping by! I don't have any huge emotional upheavals for you or dramatic earth-shattering life-changing triathlon conquests or even any fun eBay purchases to show off. I'm not even sorry. It's summer. Life is good.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New bike lock

I saw this new kind of bike lock over at the VeloNews photo gallery and thought it looked effective. . . . what do you think? Should I leave one in transition with my bike?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ten miler

It's 11 weeks to Marine Corps Marathon, I'm supposed to be doing 14-16 mile long runs about now, but this is all I had time for while the babysitter was here this weekend (while my husband is out of town).

I drove a couple miles to a nice residential area nearby and parked in the shade (in the center of the map below) and left my water and Gu and Clif Blox and salt in the car and went out for 4 loops on 3 different routes, stopping for refueling every ~2.5 miles. It was on the warm side, only 86*F but full sun and no wind at all.

I've set 12:00 min/mile as my cutoff between "jogging" and "running" (which is completely arbitrary, but anyway), so here's the breakdown for today:

At least the heart rate (and pace) looked a lot more consistent than this mess from a week ago. Oh, and I had no major knee problems, at least - it's been cranky but apparently babying it along with a knee wrap and taking lots of days off from running is keeping it more or less happy.

I'm starting to become doubtful that I can still pull off a sub-5 marathon in 11 weeks, but maybe I can get close. To go under 5 hours I'll need to run it more than 20 seconds per mile faster than my moving pace today, only over 26.2 miles instead of 10 and including water stops and hills and everything. Hmm. I'm just hoping for that autumn speed boost when it gets cooler, or it's going to be a really LONG day out there!! (Not to mention for the Annapolis and Disney triathlons before that). I need to get in a fast 14-16 miler next weekend or I'm going to be getting worried.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pool fun

Summer is drawing to a close. Our YMCA summer day camp is over, school is quickly approaching. There won't be many more sweet days playing in the outdoor pools this year, since they'll close after Labor Day! We're enjoying them while we can!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Edible art

This work of art (that I helped my girls complete) was much more successful than my efforts earlier in the day. They measured and dumped and poured and mixed and then jumped up and down impatiently as it was in the oven.

And then we had a little party when it was done, along with milk in our Dora the Explorer Dixie cups. They ate the frosting and sprinkles with gusto, and left most of the cake part for Mom to eat.

Some days it just doesn't work

OK, my viewing public has spoken, so I'll keep posting my artwork up here, such as it is.

Today was not a great day for sketching, at least not for me. Some days it just doesn't work so well. There was no wind in the morning when I dropped the girls at day camp, so I went down to the little roadside pullover to do some practice on skies and water reflections. At first it looked like this, nice and calm and great reflections. (No, this is not the same location as yesterday, although it's fairly similar).

This is the earlier sketch of the scene that I posted, from a slightly different viewpoint a few yards to the right:

But here's the result from today - those reflections were just not working right, and I kept scrubbing things out and trying to layer and re-drawing and just making it all muddy:

And then in a few minutes, the wind came up and the reflections were mostly obliterated, and the sun started hiding behind the clouds. But then the skies were much prettier so I took a few photos of clouds for reference later on some day:

Oh well. Practice, practice, practice until you get it right! They say the thing to do is just keep using paper as if you owned a paper factory. Okay. . . .

I gave up for the day and wiped the pastel dust off my hands and went back to the Y for a swim. My frustration let me swim a little faster than I usually do - first 500 yards was 10:55 (even with a stop to fix my watchband), and another 250 was 5:27. Maybe some day I can work those times down to under a minute per lap routinely.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Who's the monster?

My little monster Catherine has been going through a phase where she talks and obsesses about monsters a lot.

So we got her a copy of the movie Monsters, Inc.

She adores it!! Now she says she's "Boo", the little girl in the movie. And when she talks about monsters, it's more wanting to pet their fur than being scared of them.

Now what is even more scary is when she insists on wearing her Hallowe'en princess dress when she watches Cinderella. . . .

Easton landing sketch

I had another 30-45 minutes today during camp to drive down to the landing in Easton and do another quick pastel sketch. I could have spent some more time getting the trees more accurately rendered, adding in the rocks in the center left shoreline that I left out, and fading the background color a little, but I think it captures the feeling of the sunlight. That's all you can expect in a quick sketch!

Then I had just enough time to go back to the Y and do 25 quick laps and then it was time to spring the girls from camp. I was hoping to take them to the outdoor pool this afternoon, but it's already 98 degrees and thunderstorms are forecast. . . . maybe I'll put it off until tomorrow.

Hmm, maybe as I start doing more artwork I'll split it off into a separate blog, but for now all my devoted readers will have to wade through my efforts here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

One year!

One year today until the Beijing Summer Olympic Games begins.
I love the Olympics!

Although I think I'll wait until they're held somewhere easier to travel to before I attend them again. I'll be glued to the TV, though.

Pretty cool video here:


Summer artwork

I try to find fun things to do around the house for the girls. The other day it was painting with washable "sidewalk paint" on the deck. Fortunately they're non-toxic.

I took the day off from working out and instead did a little art project of my own today - a couple of quick 30-45 minute plein air pastel sketches while the girls were in camp. I haven't used pastels for many, many years so I'm trying to get back into practice with use of color, form, layering, and blending in landscapes. I have no deep blue pastels and I was feeling the lack and had to improvise! The didn't photograph very well, but that's fine, they were just practices to get accustomed to the medium again.